Thursday, September 22, 2016

Niku Festa 2016 肉フェスタ2016

Address:  仙台市宮城野区五輪1-3.   Located at Tsutsujigaoka Park, right next to the Tsutsujigaoka Koen JR Station on the Senseki Line.  Or about a 20-miute walk from Sendai Station, straight down Miyagino-dori.
Map:  Scroll down below.
Open:  Thursday, September 22nd to Sunday, September 25th, from 10 am to 8 pm.
It may be the 11th annual Sendai Meat Festival, but today was my first time attending this event.  Fifteen out of twenty-two vendors were marketing meat, meat, and more meat!  But at a price!

Scrumptious looking!!!

In order to partake in any grilled goodness, you need to purchase a ticket.  Cash is not accepted at any of the meat stalls, but they do accept electronic payment from such cards as Nanco, Edy, Suica, and others.  Each pre-paid ticket is 700 yen, however, most vendors sell their wares for 1400 yen, which means that you need two tickets for each dish.
My better half and I lined up at the end of a looooong line for the ticket booth, but were quite surprised on how quickly we were able to buy tickets.  We bought four tickets for 2800 yen.
All of the meats being solicited looked mouthwatering, so it was difficult to choose which stall to choose from.  
For our first venture, we decided upon booth M-4, 鉄板焼ごっつい (Teppanyaki Gottsui), a Roppongi-area restaurant which advertised beef tenderloin slices in a secret sauce.  I didn’t see it, but wife said she noticed a sign that stated that two of the three flavors in the sauce were pineapple and apple.  I handed over two tickets (a 1400 yen value) and received eight small pieces of beef with some corn mixed in.  

The beef was tender and had a distinctive flavor that was quite nice, but nothing special.  I was lucky that my wife ate only three of the slices and focused on the corn instead.  If this serving had been half the price, I might be satisfied with its value, but it definitely wasn’t worth 1400 yen.

1400 yen worth?  Hmm?

Our next attempt was at stall M-6, 神埼熟成肉格之進 (Kazaki Jukusei Niku Kakunoshin), an Ichinoseki restaurant, which proudly stated that its beef was aged for more than one-month.  Again, the cost was two tickets, and again, we received eight small slices of meat.  My wife went and bought a small bowl of rice from stand M-9 for 300 yen to accompany the beef.  This beef was remarkably flavorful, and initially we were quite impressed.  But then we were chewing, and chewing, and still couldn’t grind it down small enough to swallow.  It felt like I had meat-flavored chewing gum in my mouth.   My wife gave up after her second slice, and actually spit out the remainder of her final piece into a tissue.   I had to do the same with my last slice.  Again, a disappointment for 1400 yen.

Delicious, but cheeeeeeeewy.

Unfortunately, not even the rice was that good.  My wife commented that the rice from a convenience store onigiri tasted better.
The saving grace for my wife was the beer.  She tried both the 肉厚エール(Nikuatsu Ale), which she found to have a deep, rich flavor,  yet easy to drink, and the ゴールデンエール (Golden Ale), that she thought was light and smooth.

The event today was crowded with lines at almost every booth, but the lines moved quite quickly.   A good-sized tent with tables and benches were available, and despite the crowd we were able to find a seat a couple of times easily.

We did enjoy today’s venture to the Meat Festival just for the experience.  But like many festivals, it’s not cheap.  I recommend this event for the experience, and perhaps you may choose a vendor with a better cut of meat.  But I told my spouse, “I don’t think we need to come to the 12th annual Meat Festival.”  She replied with, “Yup.”

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